On the Precision of Chisels
When it comes to doing precision work that has to be performed over and over again, it’s easy to fall into the siren whine of the router.
The router is probably my least-favorite woodworking tool. I don’t like how it is noisy. It never produces a ready-to-finish surface for mouldings. And it can destroy a workpiece faster than any power tool I’ve dealt with.
I attribute my dislike of this tool to a personal defect in my head. I have seen authors and co-workers work wonders with this tool. For me, almost every encounter is frustrating. So it might be a genetic problem.
Today I tried to get past my dislike of the tool and made some crazy complex templates for some brass pulls I’m installing on a teak campaign chest. These pulls require recesses in two different layers, and there isn’t a single right angle.
So I carefully made a template from MDF, but I discovered I had made a few cutting mistakes. No problem. I made another template from MDF. That one worked fine for the first two sample cuts, but the MDF was too soft. The bearing on my pattern bit compressed the MDF and the recess was too big for the hardware.
So I used Baltic birch plywood for the template. Surely that would be hard enough.
It wasn’t. In two critical areas the birch compressed and left a gap between the wood and the hardware.
I had started this process at 11 a.m. At 5 p.m. I realized I had been fussing with these templates for six hours and didn’t have a single pull installed.
I grabbed a chisel. And within 20 minutes I had a pull installed.
If you love your router, then more power to you. I have – after 23 years of messing with them – realized that I am not a router guy.
— Christopher Schwarz